Pasco murderer won't get new trial

Kristin M. Kraemer, Tri-City HeraldApril 8, 2014 

Jose Garcia-Morales likely will die in prison for the 2008 shooting of a Pasco couple after his convictions were upheld Tuesday by an appellate court.

Garcia-Morales, 30, had tried to get a new trial, claiming Superior Court Judge Carrie Runge abused her discretion by refusing to give five legal instructions to a Franklin County jury about "the standard for accomplice liability."

A three-judge panel of the state Court of Appeals disagreed with Garcia-Morales.

The instruction that Runge read "was an evenhanded and sufficient statement of the law," the panel's opinion said.

Garcia-Morales is serving 751/2 years in prison for first-degree murder, attempted first-degree murder and two counts of second-degree assault. All of the charges include firearm enhancements.

It took the jury only one hour and 17 minutes to decide in April 2012 that Garcia-Morales was just as guilty as his older brother, even though he didn't pull the trigger on the guns that killed Alfredo Garcia and paralyzed Maria Ramirez de Garcia.

Benton County deputy prosecutors Terry Bloor and Amy Harris handled the case because Franklin County Prosecutor Shawn Sant represented Garcia-Morales before he was elected in 2010.

"We're gratified the Court of Appeals has ruled that the court system treated Jose Garcia-Morales fairly," Bloor told the Herald on Tuesday.

"Nothing will bring back Alfredo Garcia, nothing will cure Maria's paralysis from being shot four times, nothing will take away the terror their daughters, Erika and Maricela, experienced as they watched their parents getting shot," Bloor said. "But, we are happy that Maria, Erika and Maricela will not have to go through another trial and can move on with their lives."

Garcia-Morales never testified at his trial, but he repeatedly interrupted the judge during sentencing to insist that he did nothing wrong and deny handing a gun to his brother.

Jose and Ramon Garcia-Morales went to a Manzanita Lane home on Dec. 10, 2008, and confronted Garcia about money the brothers believed they were owed after being passed over for work in the onion fields.

Each brother was carrying a gun when they went into the house, and Ramon Garcia-Morales shot Alfredo Garcia six times and his wife four times. Three of the couple's four daughters were home at the time and saw the brothers -- who are related to the family through marriage -- shoot their father.

Jose and Ramon Garcia-Morales were arrested the next day near Mountain Home, Idaho, while reportedly on their way to Southern California.

The brothers are housed at Monroe Corrections Center, according to the state Department of Corrections website.

Ramon Garcia-Morales' convictions and 67-year sentence were upheld in November.

-- Kristin M. Kraemer: 582-1531; kkraemer@tricityherald.com; Twitter: @KristinMKraemer

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